LGBT-U Apprentice Q&A: Daniel Shad in New York, NY

By Adam Polaski • March 1, 2016 • 10:38 am

In 2015, Freedom for All Americans launched a new program designed to strengthen the movement to win non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans: LGBT University, an ambitious training and development program for the next wave of campaign leaders. The first cohort, comprised of 16 apprentices from all across the country, is nearly halfway through the year-long training, which convened for the first time last fall in Phoenix, Arizona for training sessions and informational overviews about every facet of running public education and political campaigns – from fundraising to field to communications to strategy.

DanielShad1Now, the apprentices are preparing for their second in-person meeting in April, when they’ll work together on a mock campaign, incorporating all that they’ve learned to work through real-world scenarios and develop tools for advancing LGBT non-discrimination.

We spoke with Daniel Shad, who works at Heritage of Pride, Inc. in New York City, about his experience so far with LGBT-U – and why it’s important to him to fight for LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination.

What stuck out to you about LGBT University that made you want to apply?

I had just finished my Master’s in Public Administration at New York University, and I wanted to get back into LGBT organizing in some capacity. I felt LGBT-U would be a good opportunity for me to get into the field and network with new people, and learn some new things along the way. I thought it might be a more introductory, basic program – but it wasn’t. I really learned a LOT of new things from even just that one week in Phoenix.

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How did you get engaged with LGBT organizing?

I started volunteering in 2008 with the Courage Campaign right after Proposition 8 passed [and took away the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in California]. I was living in Orange County, and I was upset about the repeal, so I started running volunteer canvasses all over Orange County, talking about marriage equality with Californian’s. Because of that experience I was brought on to the Equality California field team, working on door-to-door canvassing to persuade voters to become more supportive of equality. That was a whole part of my life, for several years – and after that, I was hooked.

I joined the board of directors of the Orange County Equality Coalition, doing some advocacy work with them, and later became president of Orange County Pride in 2012, where I lead a team to mold Orange County LGBT Pride into its own organization.

Since moving to New York two and a half years ago, I’ve completed a few fellowships, including ones at the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Amnesty International. And now I work as an Event Manager forHeritage of Pride.

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With so much experience organizing on LGBT issues, you may think you already know everything there is to know – but you said you learned a lot during LGBT-U…what sorts of things were most educational for you?

I really loved a lot of the messaging training we received, particularly when dealing with non-discrimination issues. That wasn’t something I was super up-to-speed on, and I didn’t know how to talk about it in an effective way, and the program really helped with that.

We did a training where we looked at what was actually working – looking at the most effective messaging in real time, as it was happening. The wealth of the knowledge at all times was so on point…and every presenter had a lot to offer.

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What are some of the other unique parts about LGBT University that you’ve enjoyed?

Other than the Phoenix week, the best part about being in an apprenticeship like this is the ongoing interaction that takes place among the apprentices and the trainers as well. I really feel like more so than joining an apprentice program, I’ve joined a family of like-minded individuals who care about the same issues I care about and are going to be there to support each other.

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